What do you do when you can't figure out a dolls character?

Nov 29, 2017

    1. I know not all of us attribute characters to our dolls and some use pre-existing characters but this question is geared to the rest of us.

      I bought a Resinsoul Mi from someone whom I really admire in this hobby with the idea that she was going to be a bitchy blonde goth girl but when I got her and took a look at her I knew that wouldn't work because she has a heartmeltingly sweet face. Now between not really having the money to buy her a new wig and clothes and having issues trying to figure out who she is I am getting extremely frustrated. I've had a few ideas but I don't want to spend a ton of money on stuff that might not work out.

      So my question to you is how do you deal with it when you have a doll that just doesn't fit the character you intended or if you got a doll without an idea for a character how do you go about figuring out the character?
       
    2. Play with your Mi! I figured out a lot about Gilly and JoJo once I had them in hand and could pose them, look at their faces and expressions from different angles. Just sort of seeing a doll "come to life" by interacting with it can inform a lot about character.
       
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    3. I like to make a character sheet, sort of like I would in a role play or D&D (except simplified, of course). e.g. fill out their name, physical appearance, then after that decide what their favorite things are (e.g. color, food, animal, movie, game, etc). Figure out what their hobbies would be. Figure out what kind of job they have or, if they're too young for that, figure out their dream job.

      That combined with what A Wee Tiefling said would probably help a lot ^_^ Also never hurts to look for some inspiration on places like Pinterest or what not.
       
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    4. i definitely agree with the above response :)
      i've had this ordeal a few times! i find that playing, posing, dressing, and photographing the doll helps a lot. for me, the dolls always kind of started speaking to me after long enough and things fell into place. i'd just end up realizing things about them and soon enough they were completely developed.
       
    5. I agree that she has indeed a very sweet face. But just as an idea, have you tried playing with the face-up? sometimes just changing the eyebrows and maybe marking a slight smile only in one side of the mouth, a face can go from "innocent, and pure" to "sarcastic, sassy and confident", lol! I always get impressed by how versatile a sculpt can be with different face-ups, so maybe that's what you need to make your character work. Plus, if you have some time to play around and "know" your doll a bit more, you could even discover some touches in her personality that you hadn't thought about before.
       
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    6. Thank you everyone who has posted so far! I really need to hot glue sued her and I have some free time today so I think I'll stop putting that off and then play with her a bit once I get her put back together. Also a charicter sheet is an excellent idea! I'll have to find a good template and start on that after a while ^_^

      She came with a face-up from her previous owner and I really love it, plus I'm not very good at drawing or doing makeup and MSC scares the crap out of me lol but I certainly agree that the face up makes all the difference I love looking at owner pictures of dolls I want and seeing how different they can look!
       
      #6 M_Kun009, Nov 29, 2017
      Last edited by a moderator: Nov 30, 2017
    7. I was scared of faceups until I decided that I couldn't stand my soul doll's flaking factory paint another day and it was either sell her, send her off, or get a can of testors dullcote (I knew it was available locally). Like, I was starting to hate her. Then I turned up the corners of her mouth juuuuuust a tiny bit and gave her some happier eyebrows... And suddenly I could see the character I wanted from her.

      Even if you think you'll suck at the all diy approach--I am not good at faceups or wigs, and not awesome at sewing, but I had to do it for my girls sake--it's worth a try and might well be the cheapest option.
       
    8. I like to start with just a descriptive sentence personally, then expand on that. Like one of my characters I just decided "always stays in the shade." Why is that? Is she paranoid about skin cancer? Or just not fond of outdoor activities? I ended up making her chronically ill, which is vague but a start. Build from a single concept, basically.

      As for faceups, I would recommend doing them yourself just for the independence it allows. You can inexpensively refine and change their expressions as much as you need to! It's hard to get them looking polished though, which is the tradeoff.
       
    9. First of all... Don't stress over it. You're not doing anything strange or BadWrongOhNoes by not instantly having the perfect character or backstory or any of that for a doll. Sometimes these things simply take time. :lol:

      If you're coming up blank, I'd say just play around with her for awhile. Try out different outfits, wigs and eyes. Sit her down and just look at her. Go out and take some pictures. Use her as a sketching model. It may take awhile, but eventually something will probably click. She'll remind you of someone, or your mind will wander off on a tangent and end up with the perfect What If? Or maybe you won't, and she'll turn out to be one of those dolls who aren't 'characters' so much as just... themselves.... and that's okay, too.
       
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    10. I play with them, and hang out with them and think about what they might like.

      I'm currently working on Charlie, whose character I kind of had a vague idea of when I got him, but wasn't set in stone. I do keep character sheets that I fill out, but I also role play, so playing him has made me think about things for him and add to his background. Sometimes I also consider what movies, tv shows, games, books, music, etc I've been interested in at the time I got the doll, and if maybe they'd like any of those things too, or if they'd have some of the same traits as any of the characters. That helps me make a connection and tie the doll to my other interests.
       
    11. You might try making her current expression with your own face, even if it's an unnatural expression for you. Hold it there and see if an interesting thought comes to your mind of what one might be thinking with an expression like this. If still nothing interesting is pinging in your mind, move to the mirror, keep your mouth and general expression the same, but move your eyebrows around to different emotions. You might settle on one that really rings with you, and then you could imagine exactly how you'd like her eyebrows to be to work with the face she has.
       
    12. I keep them in the box until something comes to me... then I get them out and set up the doll with a wig, eyes and some clothes... and go from there. If one stays in the box too long, I have no bond and will eventually offer them up for a trade and try again.
       
    13. Just play with them and figure out what works! I had this issue with my Unoa chibi who just ddddddddidn't really want to work for me at all... so I just turned them into the shell of a character from my favorite series as a child, then he eventually developed into his own being :P
       
    14. When I got my Homme Ducan (who was also my first doll), I had no idea how any of this characterization stuff worked and I thought I'd just keep him in the persona the company gave him, which was cool, confident, etc... then I found out the wig was unstyled and hiding the arches of his eyebrows with his hair made him look really soft and cute. So the entire company characterization went out the window. Photographing him from different angles also helped me figure out some kind of personality for him, so now he's just a soft little guy with a mischievous streak- and I had almost no hand in figuring that out :)
       
    15. Regarding the wig, you could make her a hat (or several! :)) to work out which colours she favours. Regarding the clothes, as long as you have old clothes/scarves you can cut into, you can make her clothes. Finding a doll's personality can take years in my experience, and they often throw several spanners in the works along the way.
      The hobby is not totally about spending. It is about sticking with the doll till she decides she wants to stay or go.

      Handling the doll is very important as well. This is why they came to exist. I made an unplanned doll purchase last year. He is not an easy boy to figure out. Mainly because he is so ken-doll like in many ways though he definitively doesn't look like one! He is blossoming into an active man, into motorcycles, outdoor pursuits, survival skills/wood crafts and having a best friend in his human brother. He has got this slight 'alternative' look, slightly too relaxed, slightly tramp-like, slightly aimless, as well. And everything is part of who he is. Personally, I wouldn't have thought about it all if I had never handled him and never tried to make his clothes myself.
       
    16. I've been struggling with this with Millicka Jade, my DreamingDoll Mamie. I didn't have a character in mind when I got her, and her sculpt was a little different than what I expected. What I've done is re-paint her faceup three times, trying to feel out what image really clicks with me and gives her face the look I wanted. I've also been drawing her in different outfits, again to feel out her style without throwing a bunch of money at clothes or materials I don't end up liking.
       
    17. Keep changing stuff about her until she "talks" to you. You'll know when it's right. It kinda "clicks into place".
       
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    18. My dolls aren't really characters with backstories, but I do feel like they have personalities. I've also gotten dolls before wanting them to have specific looks but been surprised when the doll seems to resist it.

      For example, I imagined my newest girl would be kind of elegant and serious and grumpy. As I "got to know her" -- the way her body poses, the kind of clothes that just kind of seem "right" on her, the wig she looks best in and how much of her face it covers, etc-- she seems rather dreamy and a little awkward.

      In order to create a backstory for a doll whose personality is not what you expected, maybe ask yourself WHY your doll "doesn't like" the character you planned for her.
      • If she doesn't like the clothes you picked out, what would she rather be wearing? Start small -- "this outfit is too blah on her", "she would prefer a brighter color", "she'd actually look great in pink...."
      • If you have other clothes lying around, find out if she prefers pants or prefers dresses. Are you drawn to combining clothes in ways you haven't before? Do you feel like she looks "right" more covered up, or does she like to show skin? Is she hogging all your tight clothing or suggesting that you just drape her in a scarf and call that a dress?
      • If she seems cheerful, what makes her particularly happy? Does she get excited, or is she more zen? Do you think she's cheerful despite something, or do you think her whole life has nurtured her sunny outlook?
      • How is she with your other dolls? Is she drawn to any in particular? Does she prefer to sit near them, stand over them, does she reach out and touch them, or does she shy away from their attention?
      • Take her outside to take some photos. Naked if you have to. Where does she want to pose? Striding serenely between trees? Hanging around at the flagpole at the local high school? Creeping around in the boarded up house at the end of the road? In any case, what's she doing in that location?

      I guess it's like getting a puppy... you can usually expect a labrador will be people-friendly and energetic, but maybe the one YOU bring home is a couch potato who'd rather stay out of crowds. Of course dolls aren't dogs, so if that personality isn't what you're looking for, you can move the doll along and try again. But sometimes something you don't expect might be fun too :).
       
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    19. I sew most of my dolls' clothes, and while I'm pretty good at it, I used to be bad at it. I got better doing more of it. If you don't sew, you could try cutting peices of old clothes and tying them in place to see what colors work for her.

      I still don't have all my dolls' characters completely figured out, but playing with them and making them things helps me figure out who they are.
       
    20. Sometimes the idea I had for a dolls look/character doesn't work out. I usually try a bunch of different clothes, wigs and even eyes on them and see what sticks. I usually find a look I like eventually! My SDC Cute is still in progress, but after a few wigs I have my Poulpy (named Kitten) settled in that regard. I thought my MNF Chloe would dress in Fairy Kei but I like her in Mori Girl a lot more. And it took FOREVER to get a look on Kiki my hybrid Pipos kitty. So just play with her. Try out different things, even the most unlikely.